Right now, we’re on a journey towards mastering the guitar fretboard. The goal is to learn all twelve major keys in all five scale positions across the fretboard. So far, we’ve covered C major, F major, and G major.
Each of these guitar scale lessons build on the previous week, so if you haven’t checked those out then you want to start with learning your C major scales.
This week we’re going to look at Bb major.
The Anatomy of a Bb Major Scale
If you went through and constructed major scales for all twelve keys based on the half step, whole step pattern, then you’ll know that a Bb major scale has two flats–a Bb and an Eb.
Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb
In other words, from Bb to C, we have a whole step, from C to D, we have a whole step, from D to Eb, we have a half step, from Eb to F, we have a whole step, from F to G, we have a whole step, from G to A, we have a whole step, and from A to Bb, we have a half step.
As you might have guessed, if we know all five guitar scale positions for F major (which has a Bb), all we have to do is lower every “E” note by a half step to “Eb.” Since we’re only changing one note, if we know our F major scale positions, this shouldn’t be too hard.
Guitar Scale Positions #1: Bb Major Scale
The 1st position of a Bb major scale starts on the F note of the 1st fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 1st to 4th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #2: Bb Major Scale
The 2nd position starts on the G note of the 3rd fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 2nd to 6th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #3: Bb Major Scale
The 3rd position starts on the Bb note of the 6th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 5th to 8th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #4: Bb Major Scale
The 4th position starts on the C note of the 8th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 7th to 11th fret.
Guitar Scale Positions #5: Bb Major Scale
The 5th position starts on the D note of the 10th fret of the low E string and roughly spans the 9th to 12th fret.
As you can see, all the positions have some overlap with one another.
Your goal in the next week is to learn all five scale positions of Bb major. Again, if you’ve learned your C major, F major, and G major scales, then this shouldn’t be too intimidating since you’ll only be changing one note.
Be sure that you aren’t just learning the patterns. It’s really easy to get stuck in just learning patterns and shapes, especially if your brain thinks that way. If this is a problem for you, it can help to verbalize the notes as you play them.
Further Application & Resources
You can also continue to practice ascending and descending in different keys. For example, you might choose to ascend a Bb major scale and then descend in G major in the 4th scale position. Then, you might ascend again in F major and descend in C major. This really helps you understand each note you are playing rather than just the patterns. Do this for all scale positions.
We want to get to a point where seeing scale positions on the guitar fretboard is second nature. We should hardly have to think about it. This will give us the ability in the future to craft some interesting solos.
In fact, as you’re learning these scales, it can be fun to try to improvise some lead lines with backing tracks for guitar. This is nice if you don’t have the luxury of being able to play with a full band.
If you’ve been enjoying this course, you might want to take a deeper look into Craig Bassett’s guitar scale course. His method systematically takes you through the process of gaining a complete mastery over the guitar fretboard.
Questions & Comments
If you are stilling struggling, post your questions and comments below to get some help.
Next week, we’ll be looking at D major. See ya then!